Former Grand Imām, Muhammad Shaltūt, received a message from a young man who liked music and studied it about whether it is halāl or harām. The young man was surprised when a friend of his told him that Islam does not permit Muslims to study or listen to music since it distracts them from worshiping Allāh and praying. At that time, the Grand Imām issued a fatwá concerning the Islamic view of music and arts.
‘Abd al-Rahīm ‘Alī mentioned other similar situations where people send the Azhar messages inquiring about the Islamic rules or opinions regarding arts and why some people consider them harām.
- For example, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Nābulsī decided that those who claim that listening to music is harām depend on prophetic hadīths that relate music to night clubs and drinking which are definitely harām in Islam.
- Shaykh Hasan al-‘Attār, the Grand Imām in the 13th century, was a big fan of music and, at the same time, was an expert in the fundamentals of religion. He comments on music saying that the origin in Islam is that it is halāl. It only becomes harām if listening to music is used to do something forbidden.
Al-Da‘wah magazine, the official representative of the Muslim Brotherhood ideas, has received similar messages asking about the opinion of Islam in music and arts. However, the Muslim Brotherhood has another opinion opposing to that of the Azhar. They mentioned clearly that music is harām. Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abdallāhal-Khatīb, muftī of the Muslim Brotherhood, issued a fatwa prohibiting women from singing which led people who appreciate music and women singers like Um Kulthūm and Fayrūz to feel perplexed from this extreme decision.
Other decisions of the Muslim Brotherhood included talking about the Islamic view of photography. In the same al-Da‘wah magazine (issue no. 48), Shaykh al-Khatīb said that some scholars allowed photography while others prohibited it. He added that the separating point between halāl and harām is that it should not include or encourage anything harām. Other opinions concerning photography permit it only in cases of necessity like the need to issue official documents.
“The main problem is that such scholars and muftīs relate their opinions to Islam and present their opinions as the pure view of Islam which makes it look like a religion that is against life,” ‘Alī comments.